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Thirty Three Multi Cultural Tales to Tell

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How To: So You Want to Tell Stories.

Actually everyone is a storyteller to some degree. We all tell others of things we’ve read or heard and love to relate the funny things that happen to family or friends. Family lore is becoming a popular area of storytelling as many people wish to pass on the stories that make up the heritage of their own families and look for advice on the best way to make them interesting. Parents are often interested in telling bedtime stories or relating folk tales from their own cultural heritage and want to find versions heard in their own childhood.

Teachers too, are interested in story as part of the language curriculum and like to have children retelling stories as part of their oral language experience. ( There are, in fact, stories to fit any subject area and for any age group.) Some people look to story telling as a means of overcoming their fear of public speaking while others are interested in story as a means of entertainment.

There are skills that apply to all of these needs and others that relate to specific areas of interest but the best way to start the adventure into storytelling is to join a group of people with similar intent. There you will find experienced tellers and others with similar feelings of ineptitude - a perfect audience to provide support and encouragement as you start your apprenticeship - for, you see, the only way to learn storytelling is to tell stories!

Whether you write your own stories or want to share personal experiences or entertain an audience, it is best to start with short versions of your stories. A beginner often has a great beginning but if the story is long the effort of remembering will either lead to stilted uninteresting sentences or develop into a long rambling discourse with too many ’ands’ ’buts’ ’ums’ and ’sos’!

A short story can be memorized quite quickly but that is only the first step. Once the words are familiar and fixed firmly in the mind the second step is to use the voice to make it interesting. Low, high, slow, fast and even the silent pause will add spice for the listener.

Practice in front of friends and family. Tape yourself, if you can, and listen critically. Finally tell your story to other story tellers and ask for feed back. Remind them, though, that good criticism involves two positives to one negative!

Finally, attend as many story telling events as you can because we never stop learning from each other. I am always fascinated by other tellers. I know what stories I can tell but I love to hear stories that wouldn’t suit my style told by other tellers with different styles and viewpoints. Many of them break all the rules I’ve given here - but beginners have to start somewhere and most ask for guidance - so good luck!

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